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Raised Panel Router Bits-When You Need Them

Gorry Terry

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The use of raised panel router bits is necessary when one is installing a frame and panel door and wants to make a raised panel. Not all raised panel router bits, however, are identical, and depending on the type of project one is completing, one’s experience with such bits, or the equipment one is using, he or she may need to use a particular type of raised panel bit.

A horizontal raised panel router bit is larger than most other bits, and it can measure up to 3 inches in diameter. Since this makes them quite large, many first-time users report intimidation upon their initial exposure to them, especially since many newcomers are accustomed to smaller router bits and those that are straight, not horizontal. Nevertheless, these are often the most useful option for applications involving panel doors. Despite their size, horizontal raised panel router bits are not difficult to use safely, and many guides are available to assist the new user and help him or her avoid common errors made with regard to safety.

In addition, horizontal raised panel router bits may offer a back-cutter. This feature is only available with some horizontal bits, and it chisels a rabbet into the back of the panel as the front panel is cut the same way it would normally be cut by the horizontal bit. The purpose of this feature is to ensure that the thickness of the of the panel’s edge will be consistent, allowing everything to fit perfectly upon assembly of the door.

Vertical bits, on the other hand, are smaller than the horizontal raised panel router bits, and it is easier for most users to operate it safely at high speeds. Also due to their size, they can be used with less-powerful routers than those needed for the horizontal bits. Unfortunately, due to their geometry, vertical bits don’t make as clean a cut as the horizontal bits. Therefore, even though smaller and easier to operate than their horizontal counterparts, vertical bits may not offer performance of the same caliber.

Furthermore, vertical raised panel bits can only be used on square panels. These are often the bit of choice for less experienced users, and they also tend to be less expensive. So, if one begins using one and then decides a horizontal bit may better fit his or her needs, it isn’t too costly to switch.
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